When looking to make the team stronger, why not start with yourself?

Anna Majowska
5 min readNov 29, 2022

In the previous article, we considered ideas to strengthen your team through the way you work together. This time we’d like to bring the focus back to the individual. What can make you better at whatever it is you do? How can you influence your methods and thinking to improve the outcomes of your efforts?

Self-confidence

Being confident can work for you in two ways: directly helping you make better decisions and redefining how other team members perceive and get involved with you. The scale of confidence’s impact on your work, as well as anything else, is indescribable.

A team leader looks ahead with confidence.

Confident people use their past successes to form a solid high opinion of their skills and abilities. On the other hand, by having clear life goals, they know what they work towards and are determined to keep going without wavering — that further adds to their self-confidence.

And what should you do if you wouldn’t necessarily put yourself in the above-described category of people? How about applying techniques and practices to make you appear and feel more confident than you are? They will do the job and can even send you on your way towards ..yes, becoming more confident! The techniques are:

  • Using definitive, decisive, and assertive language
  • Maintaining correct body posture (yes, power-posing works)
  • Keeping visual track of your productivity and past achievements
  • Strong task focus/work ethic and a detailed daily work plan
  • Taking the lead in situations when no one else is willing to
  • Staying open to admitting failure.

Under pressure mode

Your ability to focus and do the right thing fast will matter the most during high-pressure moments. Your reaction is also highly likely to make a lasting impression on the rest of the team. So it may be a good idea to exercise how you’ll conduct yourself when a highly stressful problem crops up.

A helpful mindset shift to attempt is to consider the crunch time as an opportunity, a quick test of your ability to focus, and not your be-all-end-all final chance to live or die. We’ve all had many high-pressure moments before and have somehow made it through them. Make an effort to remember that the next time the pressure rises at work. Do your best and move on.

Another thing to keep in mind in an under-pressure scenario is to focus on the task at hand and not think about the result and its potential consequences. In other words, immerse yourself 100% in dealing with the challenge, and don’t fret about anything else.

A woman sitting with a laptop appears to be stressed out.

But if you cannot help it and find yourself fretting over the potential consequences, at least make sure you only busy yourself with the aspects you control. You don’t control what your boss or clients will decide to do when the tide has passed, so don’t spin out of control imagining potential scenarios. Instead, double-check that — on your end — you’ve done all you can to achieve the best solution to the crisis. It could help to have a ready-made checklist for potential crunch situations, which you could fall back on for reassurance. On our team’s Kanban board, we have a few checklist templates that get generated when specific things go wrong, and we need to tend to them fast and with high precision. Try an approach along these lines.

Collaboration skills

We’re thinking of your skills here — not how the team operates. Staying approachable and friendly matters, but should come second to staying focused on finding solutions that work for the team. Sometimes this means being assertive and persistent about your suggestions.

Team members chatting in an office.

Of course, it pays to work on having a personal relationship with each team member, but we’d not go so far as to say you have to be friends. At times, being too personally invested in a colleague’s state of mind will negatively impact your ability to collaborate effectively and do your best. Opinions on the matter vary, but mid-level familiarity is probably the golden mean for best teamwork. Staying friendly with the team members will also make maintaining a necessary level of respect among you, and that goes much further than friendliness, in our view.

Relating to your supervisor

A final piece of the puzzle that very often impacts how well, at what stress level, and with what kind of satisfaction we work is our relationship with the direct supervisor. And here, different people will need different things. Some of us thrive when the controlling, overseeing element is rigid, demanding, and distant. Others perform much better when their boss acts as a friend and stays supportive — it most likely boils down to whether one’s motivated by reward or by threat/challenge.

Still, despite these different motivations, some elements of building and keeping a positive relationship with your boss are always applicable. Namely:

  • Showing respect and adhering to the proposed methods and times of communication,
  • Taking the initiative in new or unforeseen situations,
  • Requesting their feedback every once in a while,
  • And ..you guessed it: doing as you’re told.
    It should go without saying, but let’s state it for absolute clarity. Even if your role has much independence and is based on creativity and proposing new approaches to the business that you’re in, it does not absolve you from adhering to the boss’ requests and expectations. Keep that at the back of your head to ensure your relationship with the boss stays bumps-free.
The supervisor is making remarks on a team member’s work.

Trying out these ideas may start changing the way your team works from the inside out. After that, look over our suggestions to enhance teamwork as a shared effort.

This article was first posted on the Kanban Tool Blog.

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